Being a party in a contested divorce in Coral Springs or Parkland does not necessarily mean the divorcing spouses disagree on everything. For example, some couples agree on child custody but not about property division and spousal support. As long as there is at least one issue on which the parties’ divorce lawyers are unable to reach agreement, the divorce remains contested.
Most Florida couples understand that delaying resolution of outstanding issues lengthens the timeline of the divorce process, which can add to frustration, expense, and unpredictability. Depending on the number of unresolved issues and the parties’ willingness to address them, the timeline for an uncontested divorce case in Florida may range from less than one year to as many as three years. In extreme cases, a contested Florida divorce could last years before being finalized. Therefore, both parties stand to benefit from seeking to avoid a long, costly, and painful contested divorce. By contrast, an uncontested divorce is possible if all parties agree on all core issues, substantially shortening the process.
Sometimes, despite an individual’s best intentions, reaching agreements with an angry spouse can be difficult. In these instances, the parties must go to court to work out remaining issues. If there is disagreement about ending the marriage, division of property, the details within a parenting plan, amount of child support, spousal support, or if one party refuses to sign all the divorce documents, the divorce is considered contested. High net worth divorces often require engagement of a forensic accountant, particularly where a business owner may be attempting to hide assets or income.
Some issues cannot wait until the divorce is finalized. A spouse might need money to support the couple’s children or temporary alimony to cover daily expenses, as well as additional attorneys fees and suit monies. In this type of situation, either or both parties can file requests for temporary relief in court. The judge holds a hearing on the motion for temporary relief and orders an action. Once the motion for temporary relief is in order, it remains in place until the divorce is finalized, unless otherwise modified by the court.
If a divorcing couple has children, a contested divorce may create an unhealthy environment for the kids. Parents should speak with their divorce attorney about separating during the divorce process. Always seek guidance from a family law firm in Coral Springs or Parkland before making rash decisions, as such situations can be dealt with much more effectively if done by the book – not in the heat of the moment.
While each divorce is unique, many cases share common issues. If a divorcing couple owns property or other assets that were acquired during the marriage, all records must be obtained and itemized. These are known as “marital assets.” Equally important is gathering evidence of “non-marital assets” – those that you acquired before the marriage, or by non-interspousal gifts during the marriage.
Although a spouse may not have a claim to assets given to the other party during the marriage, such as money left to the other party in a will, property acquired during the marriage is generally considered marital property including inter-spousal gifts. Retirement plan assets including pensions, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and 401k plans may be subject to the 50/50 division of assets between parties. Florida courts may also assign the responsibility for certain debts acquired over the marriage term.
Typically, each party is ordered to equally pay outstanding debts. The Court may order one of the parties to pay an unequal distribution of debts. If one spouse accumulated a large amount of debt, he or she may be required to repay more of the debt. However, in many cases, the court may not consider which partner accumulated more debt during the marriage.
Contested divorces are among the most complex areas of family law. Therefore, it is to the advantage of both parties to have a highly experienced divorce attorney at their side to interpret the law and articulate their case before the court.